For example, attractive individuals are expected to be happier and to have more rewarding life experiences than unattractive individuals (Dion et al., 1972; Griffin and Langlois, 2006).
Similarly, in Griffin and Langlois’ (2006) research, a lack of attractiveness was associated with negative qualities, but only a moderate level of attractiveness was necessary to make one's associations positive. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(2), 245–264.
To interest us, then, potential mates do not need to be exceptionally attractive, only moderately so. Implicit and explicit preferences for physical attractiveness in a romantic partner: A double dissociation in predictive validity.
However, consciously ranking traits as more or less important may not reflect the way we make our real-life dating and mating decisions.
A few months ago I sat down with my friend Louise* while she scanned online dating profiles.
The distinction between (Li et al., 2011) can help us understand the importance of a moderate level of physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(5), 993–1011.